What Makes a Will Fraudulent and Contestable?

A Protected Future Starts with a Valid Will

Many people have come to understand the importance of wills and thoughtful estate planning, but fewer are aware of the necessity of enlisting professional legal assistance to do so. Drafting a will on your own may seem like a cost- and time-efficient solution, but, unfortunately, tackling this task alone poses a great likelihood that the will could be incomplete, invalid, and thus contestable.

Factors That Invalidate a Will

Wills are scrutinized to confirm their validity and ensure they truly reflect the desires of the decedent. The court could declare a will invalid for various reasons, including:

  • The decedent, known as the testator, did not sign the finished will
  • The will was not signed by two witnesses
  • The witnesses did not know that they were signing a will
  • One or both of the witnesses are named beneficiaries in the will
  • The testator was lied to and didn’t know they were signing a will, or they included provisions based on false information
  • The testator modified the will while mentally incapacitated

If the judge suspects any of the above, they will deem the will unenforceable.

How to Contest a Will

Beyond being invalid, a will can be contested if it is thought to be written under duress, mistake-ridden, or an older, revoked version of the decedent’s will. It’s important to note, however, that a will may only be contested after the death of the testator by any of their beneficiaries, heirs, or creditors to whom they were indebted.

If you have a relationship with the testator that qualifies you to contest, you may do so by petitioning for revocation of the probate of the will. In your petition, you will need to list the specific grounds for your opposition.

If you are concerned about the validity of your will, contact Palmer Rodak & Associates. Our attorneys can help you revaluate and modify an existing will to satisfy California legal requirements, or help you draft a new one altogether. Contact us today to get started.